In a bid to rejuvenate its flagging economy, France is about to repeal a 108 year old law and allow shops to open seven days a week.
The country’s stance on Sunday trading is steeped in tradition. Since a law introduced in 1906, Sunday has long since been regarded as a day of rest for workers.
From 2009, some shops in tourists’ destinations such as the South Coast and Paris have been allowed to open, while most other shops in the rest of the country have remained shuttered.
News of the plan was revealed earlier this week, in a leaked draft bill aimed at helping Paris compete with London as one of the shopping capitals of the world. Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, a 36-year old ex-banker, said: “We must allow those who wish to work on Sundays to do so, as long as they are suitably compensated in terms of wages and rest, because they want this extra work.”
Currently, shops are only allowed to open five Sundays a year. The new law will see the number of Sundays be brought up to 12 a year, with stores located at train stations and tourist areas ‘of international stature’ allowed to open even more.
However, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said that the change in law will kill off small shops in the city centre – “a key factor of the capital’s economic dynamism and attractiveness”.
Many French people are protective of their rest day, including President François Hollande, whose Socialist party has a majority in parliament.
The issue has led to protests, with unions insisting it will hurt workers’ rights. Small shopkeepers are worried that they will not be able to compete against the major chains.